Modeling recovery of Swedish ecosystems from acidification

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Dynamic models complement existing time series of observations and static critical load calculations by simulating past and future development of chemistry in forest and lake ecosystems. They are used for dynamic assessment of the acidification and to produce target load functions, that describe what combinations of nitrogen and sulfur emission reductions are needed to achieve a chemical or biological criterion in a given target year. The Swedish approach has been to apply the dynamic acidification models MAGIC, to 133 lakes unaffected by agriculture and SAFE, to 645 productive forest sites. While the long-term goal is to protect 95% of the area, implementation of the Gothenburg protocol will protect approximately 75% of forest soils in the long term. After 2030, recovery will be very slow and involve only a limited geographical area. If there had been no emission reductions after 1980, 87% of the forest area would have unwanted soil status in the long term. In 1990, approximately 17% of all Swedish lakes unaffected by agriculture received an acidifying deposition above critical load. This fraction will decrease to 10% in 2010 after implementation of the Gothenburg protocol. The acidified lakes of Sweden will recover faster than the soils. According to the MAGIC model the median pre-industrial ANC of 107 mueq L-1 in acid sensitive lakes decreased to about 60 mueq L-1 at the peak of the acidification (1975-1990) and increases to 80 mueq L-1 by 2010. Further increases were small, only 2 mueq L-1 between 2010 and 2040. Protecting 95% of the lakes will require further emission reductions below the Gothenburg protocol levels. More than 7000 lakes are limed regularly in Sweden and it is unlikely that this practice can be discontinued in the near future without adverse effects on lake chemistry and biology.


  • Harald Sverdrup
  • Liisa Fransson
  • Mattias Alveteg
  • Filip Moldan
  • Veronika Kronnäs
  • John Munthe
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Chemical Engineering
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-31
JournalAmbio: a Journal of Human Environment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Publication categoryResearch